Title: A UNSW Micro-Credentialing Ecosystem for Recognising Learning and Skills Attainment in Capstone Courses and Internships
Project Overview: Measuring and recognising professional skills attained by university students is difficult as these skills are integrated within curricular assessment tasks. While these tasks are authentic to the discipline, they are often represented as course grades reflecting knowledge on an academic transcript rather than skills and competencies. Award of a standards-based, university-stakeholder warranted skills badge which micro-credentials a competency/graduate capability will address this need. This institutionally warranted evaluation, developed by our academic community of practice, will generate metadata that sits behind a skills badge that micro-credentials co-curricular, professional skills attained as part of a student’s degree program. Skill badges designed to enhance curricular achievement (shown within AHEGS) can complement academic grades on transcripts in UNSW award and non-award capstone courses and internships. This would give UNSW graduates a mechanism to explicitly discuss where and how they attained/mastered competencies along their learning journey and raise their professional profiles for globally competitive workplaces.
Patsie is a recipient of the Large Scientia Education Investment Fund (SEIF#1) grant for this particular project.
Co-authored by Dr Alexander Richardson-BadgeCoP Project Manager
Polly and colleagues see development of a model micro-credentialing ecosystem for recognising skills and competencies in capstone courses and internships that can be longitudinally or transversely adapted and adopted by any UNSW undergraduate and postgraduate courses and programs. The benefit and value of this project is not the specific skills badges themselves but the process of designing such an ecosystem, the guidelines, the framework and the model of how to do it for a UNSW context. Most importantly, how these skills badges may gain global relevance for warranting foundational 21st century skill sets/strengths that have life-wide and life-long value for our learners.
Theoretical Background: Badging has been an ongoing topic of discussion at the leading European ePortfolio and identity meeting (ePIC, Bologna, Oct 2016 and 2017) and has been discussed since 2015 at the Association-for-Authentic-Experiential-Evidence-Based-Learning (AAEEBL-international ePortfolio conference), Boston-Portland USA as a valid mechanism for micro-credentialing students for professional skills with badges of achievement that are not necessarily discipline content based. Polly and colleagues see creation of a UNSW-wide, cross-faculty developed and endorsed skills badging ecosystem important for enhancing the professional profile of our students and graduates. Skills badges are symbols of institutionally endorsed competencies that underpin graduate capabilities. A system that micro-credentials professional skills can enhance curricular records of achievement or academic transcripts and can be easily integrated within institutional blockchain technology that will link and integrate multiple pieces of evidence that recognise the student learning journey, achievement and emerging professional identity over time.
Polly and colleagues have recently piloted the design and creation of a UNSW micro-credentialing system for recognising six key elements that underpin teamwork skills and graduate capabilities for UNSW science undergraduates. This was achieved by modelling data extracted from the medical science degree program as part of an Innovation and Development SEF#4 project (Polly et al., Int. J. Assess and Eval., 2018). Polly effectively led projects in evaluating student teamwork skills attainment and ePortfolio/reflective blog implementation, use and pedagogy in both program-wide and course-based approaches in science-based degree programs at UNSW (BMedSci, BOptom/BVisionSci and BExPhys; UNSW teaching fellowship project; Polly, SEF#3, 2016-2017). These approaches were foundational to her interpretation and understanding of how institutional warranty of teamwork skills and a system of skills micro-credentialing could work at UNSW.
Therefore, Polly has extensive experience working across UNSW courses, programs and faculties (7 faculties across UNSW), has built strong, collegial working relationships. Most importantly, Polly and colleagues understand the rationale and benefits for standardised approaches across the university in attaining graduate outcomes that are recognised with skills or competencies attainment. Polly leads the Badge Community of Practice – BadgeCoP – with membership including academic, professional and external stakeholders. Indeed, the BadgeCop is growing with more stakeholders gaining interest in these approaches and seeking advice on how to design and capture data to inform micro-credentials.
1. Engage colleagues across faculties at UNSW to form a community of practice for mapping pathways for graduates’ readiness in employability and post-graduate programs.
2. Development and deployment of a badging system/process at UNSW for recognising attainment of graduate capabilities linked to professional skills.
3. Pilot how UNSW skills badges would be: a. issued within Moodle and b. be made visible as emerging skill sets and exportable to external platforms such as LinkedIn to raise student profiles and make graduates competitive for future employment.
Progress against specified outcomes
Outcome 1: This was successfully performed during the first half of 2018 and continues to date. Academics from 7 faculties (Medicine, Art and Design, Built Environment, Engineering, Business, Arts and Social Sciences and Science) were approached prior to the project start date to ascertain whether they were interested in taking part. Group and individual meetings were undertaken to solidify course codes, the one or two preferred skills to assess and whether the courses ran in first or second semester 2018. Colleagues have been continually engaged during the year and those that have shown support to the project form our current badging community of practice (BadgeCoP); micro-credentialing/visualisation of graduate capabilities/professional skills. Interestingly, there has been support not only from post-graduate and non-award, but also from undergraduate course conveners, demonstrating the need to further develop this project for undergraduate programs.
Outcome 2: We have successfully trialled the micro-credentialing/visualisation of professional skills in semester 1, 2018 courses within the faculties of Art and Design, Business and Medicine respectively. Project team members attended introductory lectures for courses to introduce students to the concept of visualising their skills development for future employment or entry into post-graduate programs following completion of their degree. The approach we are taking is to generate micro-credentials/badges as records of attainment along the learning pathway of our students. Close coupling of curricular and co-curricular levels of achievement are being progressively documented in order to be visualised as micro-credentials. To deliver a standard template for professional skills micro-credentialing/visualisation that can be implemented university-wide, we have employed the American Association for Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) rubrics, which are freely available online (https://www.aacu.org/value-rubrics). Our team modified these rubrics where necessary to suit our specific institutional and program/course needs. This was done in collaboration with individual course conveners and a small weighting was attached in order to encourage engagement and add value to the task(s). During semester 1, the requirement for courses was micro-credentialing/visualising the Teamwork professional skill using the UNSW Teamwork Skills Development Framework. This was integrated into course Moodle pages using the UNSW Workshop tool for the above mentioned courses as previously applied by Polly and colleagues (Polly et al., SEF#4, SEF#3). Cengage-Learning Objects (LO), the project industry partner, worked with Edalex (https://www.edalex.com/) to generate code that can extract data from the UNSW Workshop tool. Our industry partner Cengage was able to extract this evaluation data to provide micro-credentialing/visualisation of professional skills as a dashboard for students. In semester 2 2018, we engaged a further 9 award courses together with the non-award Engineering Industry Placement.
Outcome 3: In collaboration with our industry partner Cengage, we have successfully trafficked data (in the form of the UNSW Teamwork Skills Development Framework) out of Moodle and into Learning Objects (LO) for micro-credentialing/visualisation of professional skills in the PathBright ePortfolio. While we have developed some trial badges, the import of a student-accessible badge has not been performed and we are currently working to address this with Cengage and UNSW TELT.
Next steps: Data is presently being extracted out of rubrics across semester 2018 courses. We will model this data as we have in Semester 1, 2018.
Title: Data-Informed Microcredentialling for Recognising Professional Skills and Graduate Attributes
Keywords: professional skills, graduate attributes, data-informed, digital badges, micro-credentials, authentic assessment
Microcredentialling is gaining value across corporate and now higher education sectors. Professional skills, that underpin graduate capabilities, which are built as part of university coursework and are integrated within degree programs are difficult to easily visualise for both learners and institutions (Polly et al. 2016; Polly et al. 2018). This issue was addressed by a standards-based evaluation process which was implemented in courses across five faculties at UNSW Sydney. The process informed development of the Credentialate product (https://www.credentialate.com) for capturing, quantifying and recognising skills that can be micro-credentialed as institutional badges for visualising attainment of graduate capabilities. Important outcomes of this approach included: 1. formation of BadgeCop – our UNSW, cross-disciplinary, community of practice that connected like-minded academic and professional staff to address the issue of capturing and recognising professional skills that underpin graduate attributes for the purposes of future professional endeavours and 2. development of a UNSW microcredentialling framework and implementation of related activities by course convenors and authorities within BadgeCoP to enable generation of data-informed micro-credentials and badges.
This microcredentialling/badging project addressed the issue of recognising professional skills and graduate capabilities attainment that progressively take place as part of the student learning journey within undergraduate courses and degree programs at UNSW Sydney. A novel standards-based and academically warranted process of professional skills recognition and data capture was developed. Importantly, standards-based assessment of professional skills development was linked to microcredentialling/badging via rubrics across multiple courses in degree programs within five faculties; Business, Engineering, Medicine, Built Environment and Art and Design. Cross-disciplinary ‘skills awareness and development capture’ using rubrics adapted from the American Association for Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) rubrics, [which are freely available online (https://www.aacu.org/value-rubrics)] and observing the usefulness and value of rubrics as data containers was foundational to this standards-based strategy of evaluating and demonstrating skills attainment by learners. The process was supported by development of the Credentialate product by Edalex (https://www.edalex.com/) – the industry partner for this work. The significance of this work is that evidence of skills and capabilities attainment, achieved within coursework, can now be captured and visualised by both learners and institutions. These activities were established and supported as part of a Scientia Education Investment Funded project (SEIF#1; 2018-2019; UNSW Ethics No. HC15434).
1. Engage colleagues across faculties at UNSW to form a community of practice for mapping pathways for graduate readiness in employability and post-graduate programs.
2. Development and deployment of a badging system/process at UNSW for recognising attainment of graduate capabilities linked to professional skills.
Progress / Outcomes
Project outcomes were underpinned by a successful collaboration between UNSW BadgeCop and industry partner Edalex, to inform the development of Credentialate : a data-driven, analytics platform for generating a badges that contain metadata for recognition of skills and capabilities attainment as micro-credentials. The rationale for this is that students can display their signature professional skills upon graduation for future endeavours such as entry into post-graduate programs and employment.
Outcome 1: This was successfully completed during the project. Creation of BadgeCoP - the UNSW badging community of practice. The focus of BadgeCoP was to micro-credential/visualise graduate capabilities/professional skills developed as part of coursework. Support from non-award and undergraduate (award) course conveners across 5 faculties (Medicine, Art and Design, Business, Built Environment and Engineering) was achieved with 12 award courses and one non-award course included in the project.
Outcome 2: BadgeCoP successfully applied rubrics to authentic assessment tasks to model and trial micro-credentialing/visualisation of professional skills in both semester one and semester 2 2018 courses. Each course convener selected a professional skill to assess through an authentic assessment task which would be marked in a standard manner using adapted versions of the AAC&U rubrics. Rubrics were adapted as needed in consultation with both course and project staff for each course. In 2018, 12 courses enrolled in the project assessed 4 professional skills using the following rubrics: Teamwork, Ethical Reasoning, Creative thinking and Integrative learning. In collaboration with Edalex, code was generated that extracted data from the UNSW Workshop tool that contained these rubrics within Moodle. Evaluation data contained within rubrics was used to provide micro-credentialing/visualisation data for professional skills as a dashboard for future display to students. A data-informed approach to visualising professional skills and graduate capabilities holds value when it is institutionally warranted using a standardised system of academic evaluation using rubrics. The development of the Credentialate product was informed by extraction of rubric data from the Moodle platform. Credentialate can assign rubric data to sit as metadata behind badges of skills recognition for future display to stakeholders.
Pilot how UNSW ‘signature skills’ badges would be: a. issued within Moodle and b. be made visible as emerging skill sets and exportable to external platforms such as LinkedIn to raise student profiles and make graduates competitive for future employment and entry into post-graduate programs.
Perform a pilot study at UNSW using Credentialate in various courses and programs.
- Polly, P., Vickery, R., Thai, T., Yang, J.-L., Fath, T., Herbert, C., Jones, N., Lewis, T., Pather, N., Schibeci, S., & Cox, J. (2016). ePortfolios, Assessment and Professional Skills in the Medical Sciences at UNSW Australia. J. Rowley (Ed.), ePortfolios in Australian Universities. Springer.
- Polly, P., Thai, T., Yang, J.-L., Luo, A., Herbert, C., Jones, N., Lewis, T., Vickery, R., Richardson A., & Schibeci, S. (2018). The Teacher-Student Journey: Program-Wide Teamwork Skills Development and Evaluation in the Medical Sciences. The International Journal of Assessment and Evaluation 24(4), 1-24. doi:10.18848/2327-7920/CGP/v24i04/1-24.